SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Gov. Spencer Cox has appointed the former director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources as the first Great Salt Lake commissioner.

Pending approval by the Utah Senate, Brian Steed is set to become the Great Salt Lake commissioner while also retaining his duties as the executive director of the Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water and Air at Utah State University.

“Brian has been a trusted advisor for many years and I appreciate his willingness to re-enter public service at this critical time,” Cox said. “We have a unique opportunity right now to protect and preserve the Great Salt Lake, and Brian’s expertise and passion for the lake will ensure its future is secure for generations to come.” 

Steed’s appointment comes after Utah lawmakers passed a bill a few months ago requiring a Great Salt Lake commissioner who would prepare a strategic plan to maintain and improve the long-term health of the Lake. According to the law, the commissioner would also need to work with various state departments and keep the governor, the president of the Senate, and the speaker of the House of Representatives informed of the Lake’s status.

Steed previously served as the co-chair of the Great Salt Lake Strike Team, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, deputy director of policy and programs and the director of the Bureau of Land Management as well as chief of staff to Congressman Chris Stewart.

“I am honored by this nomination and am very excited to continue working on the challenges facing the Great Salt Lake,” Steed said. “The decisions we make today will have a huge impact on the lake and its future, as well as on the quality of life Utahns have historically enjoyed. I am optimistic that by working together we can get it right.”

According to a press release, Steed has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in political science from Utah State University, a Juris Doctor in natural resources and environmental law from the University of Utah as well as a doctorate in public policy from Indiana University.

The Great Salt Lake commissioner is to serve a term of six years and may be appointed to more than one term.